Excitement reigns high these days and the questions are endless:

“Mom, is it now only three days till we travel to Ohio? Mom, Will I get to sleep with Aunt Mary? Mom, may I pack my bags?”

Traveling has been something I’ve enjoyed since I was a young girl. Being a mom and packing for eight adds a rich dimension. Yes, I love it, though I won’t deny that there are also challenges strewn among the blessings!

With each trip, I keep learning little things that make things flow a bit more smoothly. While I used to go for the prettiest bags and purses, most of our clothes get stacked in totes. Yes, a plain old Rubber-Maid tote gets tugged from one room to the next as I place each person’s clothes in it, ready to be put in drawers when we reach Grandpa and Grandma’s house.

The children enjoy helping with their clothes. Why this morning when I opened Hosanna’s clothes drawer I took the second and third look. Her clothes were all gone besides some socks, and most of those didn’t even have a pair. Hearing me remark about it, Hosanna said, “Yes, I was packing my bags, I put everything else in my bag.”

I’m finding that having little helpers does eventually, pay off; Julia does super with her clothes and helping with the little ones’ clothes after I’ve sorted through, looking for stains, snags, and missing buttons. Using a Walmart gift card a friend had given, I bought a double rod clothes rack to hang on the shirts and dresses ready to go, which has helped a lot to keep organized.

Time and again I’ve found those last hours to be quite intense. Seemingly the only way to keep things flowing is working, but especially thinking, ahead. Then I think of the words by my soft-spoken aunt who had nine children. On some occasions, she simply told her children, “For right now, don’t say ‘mom’ more often than you need to.” Now for little ones, all wound up to have the long wait down to hours, that can be a tall order.

This week I’m trying something new. The day before I’ll be giving them a brief overview of things that Mommy needs to look after that last day then will explain that the best time for them to ask their questions will be in a certain time slot and the next will be for Mommy to focus on last-minute preparations, while they look at their favorite books.

Making lists ahead of time for Julia and Austin saves a lot on my brain the last few hours, so today I’ll be making those. They will be simple like, “Put dishes away, pick up the number of toys that match your age, fill the water jug, make sandwiches (to eat along the way), or read a story to Elijah.” Little steps of prep go a long way in our home. Julia does excellent with helping me make lists of things to take along, she is an organizer at heart. Her patient character more naturally couples with organization than mine.

Traveling is a unique dimension its own. I chuckle as I think of the trips I used to take embroidery projects along. Certainly, I enjoyed those quiet seasons of my life, and now I congratulate myself if I have free moments along the way to take my Bible from the basket, hosting needed travel items and books for the children. With five car seats, I find myself shuffling from seat to seat buckling in beside the child who needs mama at the moment. We have found that if we remember to give the children motion sickness pills before leaving for a trip, things flow so much more smoothly! Taking their little purses or backpacks with treasures to play with during the six-hour drive is of utmost importance to them. Elijah, our little ball player, will clutch his favorite ball for hours on end. Guessing games are popular, so is counting, singing, taking turns to tell stories, snacking (of course a favorite), then there are those rare quiet times, when several of the children happen to sleep at the same time.

About halfway there, the endless question begins to pop up, “When will we get there?” I have found that simple answers telling how many hours, even to the ones too young to grasp time, has a way of satisfying them. A highlight for each of them is our halfway mark, the arch between by the state line, going from Indiana to Ohio and its sign, “Welcome to Ohio.” There are giggles of delight and chants of, “We are in Ohio now!”

Thinking about traveling makes even me ready for it, but first we’ll finish packing our clothes and enjoy hosting our guests for the next three nights. The children all love visitors, and especially when they stay for the night, so they are all excited for tonight.

Today I’ll be sharing my overnight french toast recipe I’m using for breakfast for our guests in the morning. I made it this morning and stuck it in the fridge, now all I need to do is stick it in the oven in the morning and serve it with homemade sausages! This can be enjoyed plain, or eaten ‘Daniel style’ with a dab of peanut butter, a generous helping of maple syrup, some fruit filling and a dollop of whipped topping.

Classic Oven-Baked French Toast

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

12 slices bread

5 eggs

1 1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon (opt)

Mix first three ingredients together in a saucepan.

Bring to a boil, then pour into the bottom of a 9-inch by 13-inch cake pan.

Place slices of bread — double decker style — over brown sugar mixture, the top piece of bread will absorb the brown sugar mixture. Now beat up the eggs, milk, vanilla, and salt and pour over bread.

Sprinkle cinnamon on top.

This may be made the day before and refrigerated overnight.

The next morning bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes or until egg mixture is set.

If desired, cut in squares and invert. Yummy!

Yields 10 to 12 servings.


By Gloria Yoder

Gloria Yoder is an Amish mom, writer, and homemaker in rural Illinois. The Yoders travel primarily by horse-drawn buggy and live next to the settlement’s one-room school-house. Readers can write to Gloria at 10510 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427